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CBHE Network Update – coming together to develop the HE culture in college settings

09 Dec 2022 | Dr Jo Tyssen Dr Jo Tyssen, Head of WP, Outreach and Projects, University Centre Leeds, shares an update on the activities of the College-based Higher Education Network group and the value of engagement in its membership.

University Centre Leeds launched the network in March 2022 and have made huge strides towards creating a HE cultures in FE settings, including the development of research and scholarly activity. Lead Contact, Dr Jo Tyssen, Head of WP, Outreach and Projects, University Centre Leeds shares an update on the activities of the network and the value of engagement in membership.

Starting with 64 individual members, from 43 CBHE providers, the membership has grown to 77 individuals from 49 institutions in just nine months. Members have a shared space with common understanding of the complexities of CBHE, and there is a shared vision about the collaborative opportunities for the network.

The network is founded on collaboration and a commitment to working together to create an HE culture, devise solutions, and deliver on tangible outputs of benefit CBHE providers and their students. The insights generated to date have been invaluable, including challenges and tensions surrounding developing and HE ethos and community within FE contexts; implementing HE research and scholarly activity frameworks; promoting the CBHE distinctiveness, graduate attributes, and currency of skills; and, providing guidance and support for CBHE Governors and ELT to better understand regulatory burden and expertise.

Not even through the first year of existence, the CBHE Network are already working towards practical outputs for the benefit of HE providers, including:

  • Collaborative marketing assets/campaigns that promote CBHE - starting with those for employers and including the potential for an employability kitemark/endorsement.

    Examples already collated include Grŵp Llandrillo Menai’s approaches to responding to the needs of the regional workforce and is developed in partnership with employers to ensure that students are fully equipped with the very latest sector and academic skills to thrive in a modern and evolving economy. A specific example includes their Level 4 Certificate of HE in Healthcare Practice programme which prepares employed Health Care Support Worker (HCSW) staff for advanced positions and offers progression opportunities onto the second year (Level 5) of both Part-time and Full-time Nursing Degrees at regional universities across North Wales.

    Another example includes the continued collaborative working with employers and industry representatives undertaken by University Centre Leeds’ HE Creative Arts department from Level 4 to their Graduate Scheme and Masters provision, including National Film and Television School, British Film Institute, ScreenSkills, Prime Studios, ITV, Screen Yorkshire, and various freelancers from the film and television industry; consistently connecting students with industry professionals. They provide workshops, guest lectures, work experience opportunities, live briefs, and mentoring; approaches that have been identified as good practice in the sector.

  • A collaborative Research and Scholarly Activity ‘What works’ toolkit for CBHE providers: this is a practical guide supporting staff/CBHE providers through the journey of developing and implementing a Research and Scholarly Activity Framework (for instance, ‘where to start’, ‘next steps’, ‘advancing or further development’, ‘supporting staff in applying for Fellowship’  among others).

  • The launch of an Annual CBHE Research and scholarly Activity Festival (the inaugural event is to be hosted by Sheffield College in July 2023.)

  • Governance resources for CBHE Governors and Executive Leadership Teams. These resources provide insights in understanding of regulatory requirements and expectations, explaining HE governance (including introduction to regulatory bodies, definitions, requirements, quality assurance processes, data expectations), and defining what is to be considered good governance within CBHE settings.

Other benefits include insight generation, case-study collation as part of a practical ‘what works’ guide, and provider-to-provider support, including future plans for buddying and collaboration opportunities.

Our potential future work is proposed to include further collaborative marketing campaigns, a CBHE Students as Partners project, CBHE Research and scholarly Activity journal and/or repository, collaborative research and funded projects, HE in FE sector benchmarking, and collaborative lobbying.

Alex Mortby, Director of Higher Education The Bedford College Group, said: “The networking opportunities have been great! it has been great to be able to share practice and develop practices.”

Amy Lewis, Curriculum Area Leader for Higher Education, Bridgend College Coleg Penybont, said the network had been valuable: “...[it's] great to meet with other like minded people who are doing similar roles across the country. Its good to hear about how others have developed their HE culture and give ideas for how to move things along at my institution. Ideas and resources for scholarly activity have been great. The recent masterclass was also really good.” The output Amy is most looking forward to is: "A guide to scholarly activity and how to promote it as that is what I'm working on in my College....more info on where to publish”.

Advance HE’s commitment to providing enhanced support for CBHE members, including funding to support the development of this network, has been welcomed. The vision of the network is echoed by Advance HE and it has provided a valuable opportunity to share practice, opportunities and challenges, opening dialogue and offering new insights to the wider sector. This update highlights the appetite for such a network, the potential for it, and similar networks, moving forward, and the possible solutions and output that could be achieved.

The Network has proven beneficial for CBHE providers, and has potential for similar benefits for Small Specialist Institutions. It has helped showcase the importance of and contribution that CBHE providers make to the HE sector, whilst also providing increased access to support and opportunities often considered for HEI’s. Consideration of the application and contextuality for CBHE is growing, including CBHE-specific Research and Scholarly Activity masterclasses, context-specific governance and equality charters, and sector benchmarking.  has also provided a valuable opportunity to maximise the voice of CBHE providers, something often lacking in other forums. Being able to share practice, opportunities and challenges has opened dialogue and offer new insights to the wider sector.


Jo Tyssen is the Head of HE Quality and Student Support at University Centre Leeds and has 16 years’ experience within the HE sector. Her role involves managing a series of outreach and student support projects and initiatives, across the student lifecycle, that support student personal development. Jo has been Chair of the CBHE Network since March 2022 and will hand over to a new Chair for the 2023-24 academic year.

The College-Based HE Network group was established through funding from Advance HE's Collaborative Development Fund 2021-22.

For colleges wishing to find out more and enquire about joining the network, please contact, Advance HE Membership Executive.


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